Johnson High School in Gainesville, Ga., is forcing a 17-year-old student who identifies as male to run for prom queen. Dex Frier was nominated by his friends for prom king but administrators said that because he is legally a female, he can’t enter the prom king race.
The school principal and supervisor notified the transgender student of their decision in a meeting.
“They called me there to tell me I couldn’t run for prom king ’cause I wasn’t legally male and that was the way it was in Hall County [school district],” Frier told BuzzFeed News on Thursday. “The only way I was eligible to run for prom was to be put on the prom queen ballot.”
Frier told WSBTV the school doesn’t “have a clear rule that says you have to be biologically male to run for prom king [and] you have to be biologically female to run for prom king.”
In protest, his classmates started a petition online via change.org called “Allow transgender boy to run for Prom King.” The petition has so far been signed by over 20,000 people and has prompted supporters to reach out from all over the world.
This petition “is a medium in which Hall County students, and students across the globe, can demonstrate solidarity in the fight for human rights regardless of gender, race, class, or any other perceived difference. Our request is simple: allow Dex Frier to remain as a male member of Johnson High School’s Prom Court.”
Frier said in an interview, “Just because I’m not legally male I was going to get excluded from something that every guy has the opportunity to be in high school. It was really upsetting. As a student I felt I had the right to be put on the ballot.”
Frier is asking school officials to allow him “to express the way I feel and the way I think about myself … without having politics come into play.” He added “Especially in a school setting. I don’t know of many trans people who go to this school [but] I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this. It hurts being told you don’t deserve the same rights as someone else because you’re not the same as them.”
In response, school superintendent Will Schofield told the Gainesville Times, “I am not interested in being responsible for placing our school district, by acts of commission or omission, in the middle of a national social, societal and legal issue which would have the potential to substantially disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community.”
The Johnson High School prom is Saturday.